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The Fowl and the Pussycat

Love Letters of Michael Field, 1876–1909
Michael Field. Edited by Sharon Bickle
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Michael Field was the pseudonym used by Katherine Bradley (1846-1914) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913) coauthors and lovers for the poetry and verse drama they published. This edition of the love letters of Michael Field brings together for the first time a personal correspondence thought lost by critics. As the first modern scholarly edition of any of Michael Field's writings, the 168 letters represent a treasure trove of almost untouched manuscript material, including many from the critical early years (1876-1885) of this aunt-niece collaboration. The letters contain both published and unpublished poems and insights into the dramas and their production and are supplemented by extensive annotation and a biographical introduction. Recent critical analysis of poetry and plays written by Michael Field has resulted in more complex interpretations of lesbian textuality, but our understanding of the lives of these poets remains obscured by a pervasive myth of unity. By drawing on previously neglected information about the early lives of Bradley and Cooper made available in these letters, Bickle is able to challenge many current perceptions about the poets' lives. She also shows how the letters provide a context for understanding the development of specific works and for reevaluating the significance of Michael Field as a late-Victorian writer.